CSO letter

The first six years of Norfolk Southern’s sustainability journey have taught us much about the connection between corporate responsibility and business success. One thing stands out for me as a cornerstone of continuous progress – employee engagement.

Employee engagement is the heart and soul driving our sustainability initiatives. The active participation of our employees is embedding sustainability into our operational fabric. I see and hear signs that employees are thinking about how natural occurrences affect business operations. For example, one employee engaged me in discussion about the implication of rising sea levels on rail facilities. Others have pursued achieving energy savings beyond locomotives and expanding recycling efforts. These anecdotal observations tell me that employees throughout the company – not just the “sustainability officers” – are living and thinking corporate responsibility.

These signs are gratifying. They will help define our future. In the formative years of our sustainability program, we focused on efficiency improvements and made incremental progress. Over the next five years, with the full engagement of our people, we will look at a spectrum of energy programs, fuel and nonfuel. We will want to complete implementation of our flagship fuel-efficiency project, LEADER, which helps us conserve fuel, reduce emissions, and lower the costs of maintaining locomotives. We’ll continue also with network capacity enhancements. The convergence of these efficiency improvements – energy, fuel, and network – ultimately will optimize capacity to deliver service, improve velocity, and reduce congestion on the system.

That’s the real success of sustainability – employee engagement leading to ongoing industry leadership in safety, operations, and environmental stewardship, all playing out in daily railroad life.

blair wimbush
Blair Wimbush
Vice President Real Estate
and Corporate Sustainability Officer

person Name
Blair Wimbush, CSO, Norfolk Southern
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Description of key impacts, risks and opportunities, how these are prioritized, performance progress and processes, how sustainability impacts financial performance, a table outlining performance targets, and governance mechanisms in place to manage these risks and opportunities.

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sustainability in action:

Creative thinking reduces energy use – and costs

Through our InnovatioNS program, Norfolk Southern encourages employees to look for ways to make their work safer, more efficient, and more cost effective. Brian Thomas’ ingenuity has saved the company money and contributed to its sustainability efforts. read more >

sustainability in action:

Committed to a greener workplace

Employees at Norfolk Southern have embraced the railroad’s sustainability efforts. At many locations across the system, employees such as Emily Hunter have taken the initiative to launch recycling and other green initiatives. read more >

sustainability in action:

A Norfolk Southern ‘River Star’

Ray Jones, a 32-year railroader, is committed to helping Norfolk Southern meet its pledge to be a good corporate neighbor and environmental steward. read more >

Creative thinking reduces energy use – and costs

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Committed to a greener workplace

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A Norfolk Southern ‘River Star’

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See all of our sustainability in action case studies

sustainability in action:

Keeping locomotives moving down the track

Norfolk Southern is continually looking for ways to increase the efficiency and productivity of operations. Devina Miller has played a key role in a Mechanical Department initiative dubbed Mission Critical. read more >

Keeping locomotives moving down the track

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See all of our sustainability in action case studies

sustainability in action:

A little effort, a lot of food for those in need

To strengthen the communities our railroad serves, Norfolk Southern promotes and supports employee volunteerism. Many employees, like Amanda Carpenter, volunteer their time, treasure, and talents to build community connections. read more >

sustainability in action:

Building community partnerships

Norfolk Southern strives to be a good corporate citizen. The railroad routinely partners with local, state, and federal government officials on projects that benefit communities and the country. Employees such as Ed Sites and David Dize are the ones who make these partnerships work. read more >

sustainability in action:

In pursuit of a dream

Norfolk Southern ensures that employees have ample opportunities to develop their skills and advance their careers. Jerome Perry is taking advantage of an NS program to further his education. read more >

sustainability in action:

Where good health meets good deeds

As part of its employee wellness program, dubbed WellNS, Norfolk Southern in 2011 introduced Power Train, an initiative that combines physical fitness and charitable giving. Misty Braden organized a Power Train team in Knoxville to help fund breast cancer research after a colleague was diagnosed with the disease. read more >

sustainability in action:

Partnering for safety

Safely operating our railroad is Norfolk Southern’s No. 1 priority. In addition to efforts to keep our employees safe on the job, we partner with communities in various ways to promote public safety. Employees Richard Vaughan and Greg Valentine demonstrate that commitment. read more >

A little effort, a lot of food for those in need

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Building community partnerships

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In pursuit of a dream

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Where good health meets good deeds

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Partnering for safety

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See all of our sustainability in action case studies